Local News

State Employees Pushing For Pay Raise Proposed By N.C. House

Posted July 19, 2005 5:57 a.m. EDT

— As North Carolina lawmakers continue to negotiate on a state budget, state employees are gearing up to rally for pay raises.

Each year, state employees consistently ask for a 5 percent pay increase and each year they consistently get less. Workers say they have paid the price for a tight budget for too long and they are fighting not to do it again.

State employees are mobilizing their forces and doing one-on-one lobbying with key lawmakers this week who they believe can make a difference for them. They are also organizing rallies this week in a few key cities, including Butner on Wednesday.

This year, the House is proposing a flat raise of $1,086 for all state employees while the Senate is proposing a 2 percent raise, or $500 -- whichever is greater.

The State Employees Association says it is pushing for the flat raise because it would help more people. In fact, it would translate into a raise of more than 2 percent for anyone who makes less than $43,000 a year -- more than three-quarters of the state's workforce.

"Not only does it benefit more workers, but it benefits the least among us," said Sherry Melton, a spokeswoman for the State Employees Association. "Those who really need the help more."

It would cost the state $50 million more, but with higher taxes being proposed and higher revenue projections, the association believes the money is available. It just depends on how budget negotiators choose to spend it.

At a bill signing Tuesday, Gov. Mike Easley said he expects the House and Senate will work out a compromise.

"I think they are both looking to see how much money they're going to be able to use," Easley said. "I think the important thing to remember here is fiscal discipline. We are in a position now where we're able to talk about how much of an increase we can give. Three years ago we couldn't do that because there had been no fiscal discipline."